For consumers, food safety most likely begins in the supermarket aisle.
Whether you’re doing a quick trip to pick up dinner ingredients or tackling
a week’s worth of grocery shopping all at once, there are a few easy steps
you can follow to ensure that the food you bring home will arrive there
At the Store
Select cold food last.
Picking up perishable food like meat, poultry, and eggs at the end of your shopping
trip ensures that they stay refrigerated until right before checkout.
Read the label.
Don’t buy food that is past the “Sell-By,” “Use-By,” or other expiration dates.
Check the packaging.
Never choose meat or poultry with packaging that is torn or leaking. Make sure frozen food is frozen solid and refrigerated food feels cold.
Buy clean eggs.
At the store, choose refrigerated Grade A or AA eggs with clean, uncracked shells before the “Sell-By” or “EXP” (expiration) date on the carton. When purchasing egg products or substitutes, look for containers that are tightly sealed.
Inspect fresh produce.
Don’t buy fresh fruits or vegetables that are bruised or damaged. Make sure fresh-
cut fruits and vegetables are displayed in refrigerated cases at the store. If
not, don’t buy them.
Place meat, poultry, and seafood in plastic bags.By bagging these foods before
placing them in your cart, you’ll guard against cross-contamination which can happen when raw meat or poultry juices drip on other food, spreading bacteria from one food to
Separate foods in your grocery cart.
Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and their juices away from other food to further prevent the possibility of cross-contamination. Keep them separated during checkout and in your grocery bags, too.
Cross-contamination is the transfer of harmful bacteria to a food from other foods, cutting boards, utensils, surfaces, or hands.
It is prevented by keeping food sepa-rated and by keeping hands, utensils, and food handling surfaces clean.
Once your groceries are packed for the trip home, there are some easy “timing”
tips you should follow to continue to maintain their safety.
Go straight home.
Plan to drive directly home from the grocery store.
Don’t leave groceries in the car while you run other errands. The key is to
always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours
This is true of all perishable food and in all situations and is known as the “2-Hour Rule.”
Do a “Weather Check.”
When the outside temperature is above 90 °F (32.2 °C), you should refrigerate your
purchased perishables more quickly within 1 hour
If your grocery store is more than a half hour away from home, bring a cooler when you go shopping. Pack your meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs in a cooler for the drive home.
When you get home, don’t get caught up reading the mail! Unload your groceries right away to keep them safe, and refrigerate or freeze all perishables.
The “Danger Zone”
Understanding the “Danger Zone” is critical because bacteria can multiply rapidly in any perishable food that is left in the “Danger Zone” between 40 and 140 °F
(4.4 and 60 °C) for more than 2 hours (1 hour if above 90 °F or 32.2 °C). (See Remember the 2-Hour Rule on page 35.) The “Danger Zone” is a potential risk for cold food that goes above 40 °F (4.4 °C) and hot food that falls below 140 °F (60 °C). However, it’s easy to avoid the “Danger Zone”: just keep hot food hot and cold food cold